A Hearthstone Viewer Guide
What is Hearthstone?
Blizzard’s Digital Card Collection Game does in fact have a small pro scene with a few circuits and tournaments and even different tournament formats related to Deck usage. While the individual matches are all relatively the same where each player has a Deck of cards and play from their hand, they Decks they are allowed to use are limited in many different ways, depending on the tournament. This is important to note when watching because if you know which players are good with which decks, and they are able or unable to play them, you’ll know which games are going to be the most intense. Most of the time the tournaments are group stage to playoffs, this classic tournament style is efficient and appealing when storylines are considered. Let’s get into specifics.
What kind of tournaments are there for Hearthstone?
Tournaments would be little else but power scaling and meta abuse without a few extra rules to keep competition fierce. The most popular ruleset is the Shield-Phase Conquest rule set. In this rule set each player select four unique Classes and a Deck for each, they are allowed to “Shield” one and ban one away from their opponent. The remaining three Decks for each player are then selected one at a time and played against one another, the losing deck is taken away. Last Hero Standing match format can be anywhere from 1 Class each to 9 Classes each with a unique Deck for each, the player to run out of Decks first, loses. This can lead to some crazy matches but ultimately is less time efficient than the Shield Phase format. The last format still utilized is the Modified Blind Pick which is very simplistic, a set number of decks a player can use are set, and the players go into their series unaware of what the other is going to use.
Conquest and Specialist are two formats that are no longer utilized in official tournaments, but are still great ways to play in local tournaments or amongst friends. Conquest is a much longer set normally requiring a player to win with all of their chosen decks, while Specialist can be shorter, but the overall point is that a player who uses only one Class, such as myself, can bring three decks from that class to play with, the gut wrencher here is that you are very limited to what decks you can use as all three decks utilize 25 of the same cards.
Overall the Shield-Phase Conquest style of play is the most (arguably) fair way to play the game, and the best to watch. It brings a level of all the other formats up a notch while allowing players some real freedom to play what they want to. Of course tournaments are almost always under the Standard category as opposed to Wild, so that games remain fresh and competitive.
What kind of Formats do Tournaments have?
Tournament Formats pertain to how they are set up. These don’t need to much explanation but they should be mentioned all the same. Tournaments can be composed of a Single elimination, double elimination, Round Robin, or Swiss Style tournament. Some may argue that ROund robin or Swiss are the most effective as most other Esports utilize these formats more frequently, but it doesn’t matter much to the viewer who just wants to watch the games and enjoy the experience.
How do I watch Hearthstone?
If you are new to Hearthstone then it may be a lot of information to take in all at once. There are so many different things happening at any given time that understanding isn’t always the most simple of tasks, but following along should be fairly easy. There are two players each armed with a Deck and a Hero power. The game progresses turn by turn with each player getting more Mana Crystals as the turns go on. Each player begins at 30 Health Points and when one drops to 0, the game is over. These games can go rather quick or drag on for a medium amount of time, but a game is normally over between 10-15 minutes. An entire day of games in the Hearthstone Grandmasters Americas lasted a mere hour seven minutes with commercials and analysis.
Everything on the screen is relatively just decorative, there aren’t ever too many infographics or things showing up to distract you other than some icons indicating what decks the players have lost and still have available for their next game. There can also be a card indicator on either side representing what is inside each players deck.
Sometimes producers may put up some statistics or clips of something else happening, Shoutcasters are usually always able to further explain often times in better detail than what you’re shown.
The more you watch the easier it will be to understand everything going on, but playing the game will expedite this process, it will not drain your pockets if you don’t let it but it can persuade the more devoted fellow to give more than they may wish.In the end, all that matters is watching the strategies unfold and enjoying the games as they come. Hearthstone is a very lax game to watch and as any other TCG, can vary in excitement depending on your personal investment in a given match.
What are Analysts and do some of their terms mean?
Outside of the game, there are a group of really talented analysts that act as casters as well. Frodan leads the charge with in depth analysis and hype factor, meaning anything he casts will have depth and energy more often than not. Listening to anything the casters say may confuse you at first, but the more you hear them talk about something the more you’ll come to understand what they’re referencing and make everything come together even more. As with any new age, the game comes along with its own lingo and slang that when we first hear the words we may be taken aback, everything has a meaning though, and they all came from somewhere that makes sense to us gamers. Let’s go over some of the Hearthstone relevant Slang terms that you’re bound to hear during any Hearthstone related conversation.
- Top-Decking is a term you will hear during any Card Game, not just Hearthstone. The term has been around forever and relates to whatever card is at the top of the deck. It is a short way of explaining if the draw was good or bad, “He Top-Decked x Card, it’s not looking good for him” or something like that will be said usually in more intense situations where a player is looking for a specific card and doesn’t get it.
- When people refer to building a deck or “Constructing a deck” they mean the process of making a deck, the end result of a Deck that was made, etc. It just seems that us gamers have a hard time explaining that we just combined a bunch of cards and put em into a deck.
- Face in the Hearthstone topic refers to the player or their representative character, you will hear such sayings as “going for the face” or “face damage” when a player is attacking their opponent directly. A lot of different sayings are rooted in Face, and always represent the Player or their Character.
- Control, a Control deck is built around controlling the board by focusing on dealing a lot of Area of Effect damage or other Clear Board methods. These are a specific kind of deck that may not make perfect sense when we first hear the term.
- At the beginning of the game each player is shown their starting hand, this is noted as the Mulligan and can be switched out before the game starts with other random cards from the deck as a new draw instead.
- OTK or One Turn Kill is what references a play where one player ramps up their deck and combos hard enough that they end up killing an enemy, 30hp-0hp in one turn, not on the first turn mind you though if lucky enough there are a few ways this could happen, but rather at any point in the game where an enemy has not taken damage, but then proceeds to lose the game in one turn. This doesn’t occur often but is still possible.
- A common Video Game term is Overpowered, which literally means something about the game is actually widely considered to be, or at the time seems to be strong to the point where not much else is able to trump it.
- Zoo Decks are decks that focus on amassing low cost minions in an attempt to Rush down and opponents Health points, this is one deck style that utilizes the Rush strategy.
There are many other terms that are more or less a little easier to understand than the ones highlighted in this guide, Hearthstone is, at face value, fairly simple to watch and listen to. Sometimes these words come up and may not be exactly understandable if you have never heard of these terms before, but they are among the more complicated terms. The more you hear the terms though the quicker you’ll pick up on their meanings or recognize what exactly you’re hearing, and soon after you’ll start using em, yourself.
So what’s next?
At first glance Hearthstone can seem rather complicated, with over two hundred and fifty thousand peak viewers for the Hearthstone World Championship however, there’s obviously something to it. Being a more relaxed Esport makes it easier for the newcomer to watch, and if you’re looking to try the game out yourself, which you should be, we have a few guides that can point you in the right direction! TCGs are notorious for their longevity, and all Hearthstone has left to do is grow even more.